Counting Crows

After falling out with mentor Ozzy Osbourne following the recording sessions for 1995’s Ozzmosis, guitarist Zakk Wylde struck out on his own with his first solo album, Book of Shadows, in 1996. When it failed to score any mainstream success, the six-stringer took an extended break before resurfacing with a new album and band called Black Label Society in 1999, featuring Wylde on vocals, guitar, and bass and drummer Phil Ondich. A number of different musicians would sift through the band’s ranks during the convoluted tour that followed, but Ondich was back on the drum stool by the time Black Label Society recorded 2000’s Stronger Than Death album for new label Spitfire Records. The subsequent tour included a slot on the second stage of his old boss’ Ozzfest tour and yielded the Alcohol Fueled Brewtality Live!! album in 2001. The band returned to Ozzfest the following year (this time on the main stage) in support of the 1919 Eternal LP. Blessed Hellride appeared in 2003 and Hangover Music, Vol. 6 followed a year later. Mafia, Black Label Society’s seventh album, was released in spring 2005. The following October, Spitfire Records issued the Wylde work compilation Kings of Damnation: Era 1998-2004.

Counting Crows made their debut in 1993 with August and Everything After, an album recorded in a cavernous Los Angeles mansion. The sound of the band—and the vocals of its burly front man, the dreadlocked Adam Duritz—instantly drew comparisons to such earlier rock giants as Van Morrison and The Band. Some critics subsequently dismissed the band as derivative, but other reviewers contended that the group was a creative, talented addition to the rock music universe. As Melody Maker remarked, “Counting Crows are unashamedly steeped in a classic rock tradition, but there’s nothing stale or hoary about this music. It’s vibrant and alive, bright and brilliant in the here and now.” While critics bickered about the merits of the album, music fans came down solidly in favor of the band, making August and Everything After one of the best-selling albums of 1994. In 1996 the band released a second album, Recovering the Satellites, that received a predominantly warm reception from critics and fans.

As the group’s lead singer, chief songwriter, and cofounder (along with guitarist David Bryson), Duritz was easily the most visible and recognized member of Counting Crows. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but his physician father relocated the family several times during his childhood. Duritz’s family eventually wound up in the San Francisco area, where he met Bryson. The two quickly discovered that they shared a long-held passion for music. “It’s been my life since fifth grade,” Bryson said in Guitar Player. “I can’t even imagine wanting to do anything else.”

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